Bill Gates is reportedly mulling a comeback to Microsoft.
Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates could be considering a move back to Microsoft, according to reports. Fortune reported on Thursday that one prominent chief executive told the site that an individual close to Gates indicated he could be considering a move back to Microsoft. As the original Microsoft Founder and Chairman, Gates transitioned from full-time work at Microsoft to focus on his philanthropy in June, 2008. Bill Gates founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 1994 with an initial stock gift of $94 million. Now nearly 17 years later, the software genius is working full time as a philanthropist. Gates refused to return full-time to Microsoft earlier this year, claiming that his full-time work for the rest of his life is with his foundation. “I’m part-time involved. But this is my job now,” said Gates during an interview in June.
Fortune’s report could be related to Gates considering a more active Chairman role rather than assuming CEO responsibilities. It was recently revealed that Gates had a hand in helping Microsoft kill off its courier tablet project. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had a difficult choice to make for the Courier, keep it or can it. Ballmer reportedly arranged for the Courier team to meet with Bill Gates to discuss their project. Gates wasn’t keen on the experience due to the fact it wasn’t intended to be a computer replacement and had no functional email client. His recommendations meant the project was canned just a few weeks later.
Gates was also involved in Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype. “I was a strong proponent at the board level for the deal being done,” Gates told the BBC’s Hardtalk programme earlier this year. ”I think it’s a great, great deal for Skype. I think it’s a great deal for Microsoft,” he added. His involvement in both the Courier and Skype indicate that he’s still a key decision maker at Microsoft and Fortune’s report may relate to his desire to involve himself in more decision making. Microsoft shareholder support for CEO Steve Ballmer dropped slightly this year. Ballmer was backed by 92% of shareholders in this year’s annual board election. Ballmer recorded a 95% backing last year. Fellow directors, including Chairman Bill Gates, were all re-elected this year with more than 99% support from shareholders. Ballmer’s shareholder score dropped slightly this year despite Microsoft reporting recording profits over the course of the year.
Ballmer has faced a tough time over the past year, following calls for him to step down. Glassdoor.com, which allows employees to anonymously rates their employer, reports that 55 percent of employees disapprove of Ballmer and 45 percent approve, based on 2,607 ratings. An influential hedge fund manager called for Ballmer to quit in May. Microsoft’s board of directors supported Ballmer following the calls for him to quit. Microsoft’s nine-person board, including Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, supported Ballmer at the end of May. Microsoft’s stock has suffered since Ballmer has been in charge but most analysts and investors feel it would be a hard task to find someone adequate to replace him.